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Tiananmen Square Wednesday, 2 June, 1999, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Where are they now?
Like the pilgrims who sailed there from England three and a half centuries ago, Tiananmen Square dissidents Chai Ling, Wang Dan and Wang Juntao made their way to America in search of freedom, some risking their lives in perilous escapes from their homeland.

BBC Chinese Affairs Analyst James Miles travelled to Boston and New York to find out what they are doing now and how they remember the events of 1989.


Chai Ling
Chai Ling
In Tiananmen, Chai Ling's passionate speeches inspired hundreds of students to go on hunger strike in a bid to force the government to back down. The week-long fast galvanized the movement, and brought people from all walks of life onto the streets in sympathy.

Dubbed by the Western media as the Joan of Arc of the democracy movement, Chai Ling is now running her own Internet business, fulfilling the American dream.

She's completed an MBA at Harvard. Her company near Boston is setting up on-line information services for university campuses. Chai Ling hopes to use the power of the Internet to bring freedom of information to China. She rarely grants interviews.

She only agreed to talk to the BBC on condition that she not be asked in detail about her role in Tiananmen.

Chai Ling: After the massacre, everything, our dreams, crashed. In the last ten years we've been trying to recreate those wonderful moments, and now I think I've found that with the Internet. I love this American dream, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to start a great enterprise.
BBC: Do you think it was all worth it?

Chai Ling: Yes, I'm glad, I'm proud. The dream still continues and will become reality.
BBC: Does it still haunt you?
Chai Ling: I'd rather not think about it. Let's talk about it on the 20th anniversary.


Wang Dan
Wang Dan
Wang Dan was at the top of the government's wanted list of student leaders issued after the crackdown. A few months before the Tiananmen movement, the quietly spoken history student from Beijing University was already arousing the political fervour of students by organizing freewheeling open air debates on campus.

After Tiananmen, Wang was jailed for three-and-a-half years. He was released for a few months and then jailed again for another three years before being sent into exile.

Now he's resumed his history studies at Harvard University near Boston, a newcomer to a dissident community riven by factional strife.

Wang Dan: Of course these kind of struggles will cause some people who had high expectations of the democracy movement in exile to lose hope. But in fact I don't think the movement has really been weakened. Because if people with different opinions are made to work together, the results aren't necessarily good. So it's actually fine to have splits, but it's possible that these will cause a few of our supporters to lose hope. There's nothing we can do about that.
BBC: When you think of what happened ten years ago, and the deaths of so many people, do you feel a certain responsibility?
Wang Dan: Just speaking for myself, of course I feel responsibility. If we put aside the question of where the ultimate blame lies for these people getting killed, at the very least we organizers should bear responsibility for any deaths.


Wang Juntao
Wang Juntao
To the Chinese government, the journalist Wang Juntao represented a far bigger threat to communist rule than the na´ve undergraduates. Wang was sentenced to 13 years in prison for his role in Tiananmen, far longer than any student.

Five years ago he was sent into exile. Chinese television tried to cover up his harsh treatment in jail by releasing this video of a family visit. Extraordinarily, most journalists had even heard of him at the time of Tiananmen. They had also failed to notice his key role in the buildup, when he and his circle of older intellectuals had been quietly using the front of an independent think tank to establish a force they hoped one day would challenge the party's monopoly of power.

Wang Juntao: Western journalists didn't now what we were doing. That's because we deliberately didn't tell them. If we had it would have made trouble with the authorities. And we wouldn't have been so successful in setting up our extensive independent network.
BBC: Do you regret that older intellectuals didn't play a more prominent role in Tiananmen?
Wang Juntao: Looking back now at what happened, I do feel regret. If we had stood up and tried to influence events, the outcome might have been very different. I do feel a sense of guilt.

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Chai Ling remembers Tiananmen
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Wang Dan remembers Tiananmen
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Wang Juntao remembers Tiananmen
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